Starting school

September 5, 2012

The school photo from the year they were first all there – 1996

I remember my first day at school. Well actually I don’t, but I do remember the second. Apparently when Mum told me to get up for school on day two, I said “I’ve been.”  I hadn’t enjoyed it and I didn’t want to go again. And here my memory lets me down because my mother was actually a teacher at the school  and I don’t remember how I got to the school gates, but it wasn’t with Mum. Perhaps my older sister and I walked – we certainly did later on.

I was going in to Mrs. Sharp’s class. My memory is of an old woman with four sons, but as the boys were at school with us, it is likely she was the same age as my Mum. But I think she may have been widowed and definitely had grey hair.

I was in the playground and the bell went to line up. Everyone went in, but I didn’t. A teacher came over to me and asked me to come in. I said I didn’t want to. She said I had to. I said I wouldn’t.  She took my hand and started walking me in. I started pulling away. She called over the Headmaster, Mr Cameron. He took my other hand and they started frog marching me in to the building. I started bawling and was trying to plant my feet in the ground so I wouldn’t move. But they dragged me. They asked what was the matter, why didn’t I want to come to school. And I remember thinking I shouldn’t say I didn’t like it. So I said I wanted to know what was for lunch. I was barely able to speak through the tears. The thing is, we went home for lunch during those first few weeks and so someone was dispatched to my mother’s classroom to ask her what we would be having for lunch.  I was given the answer to my question and now I felt I had no choice but to concede and go in. But I remember thinking that I should have made my request something that they could not have satisfied and then I wouldn’t have had to go to school. As it was, they had beaten me and I never again refused school.

There were four classes in the school, so mixed age groups in each class. We sat according to age group, so immediately on entering the classroom, the wee ones were on the left and that is where I started. Two rows of individual desks facing each other, side on to the front of the class. Probably about twelve or fourteen of us starting school together. The teacher sat in the front corner further away from us, on a high high desk and chair. Around us on the walls were the letters of alphabet. There was a blackboard at the front in the middle, and one on an easel near to our group of desks.

We would recite the alphabet as in A is for apple, B is for ball, C is for cat, D is for drum….. following the pictures on the walls. And we would practice writing in specially lined books – up to the top line for capitals and tails, only to the middle line for lower case. We would learn the times tables and sing them off by heart, but I only remember doing the twos, fives and tens with Mrs. Sharp.

To be honest I was bored in the first class as my sister had already taught me to read (Here is Dick.  Here is Dora.) and Mrs Sharp was pretty strict. It was sitting in your own desk working all morning, doing letters and sums. Children  were made to stand in the corner if they were naughty or stupid. Or  wet their pants. Which happened as we were only allowed to go at  playtime or lunchtime, not inbetween. A puddle would be seen emerging on the floor, and then tears. And a very cross teacher.  Then after lunch (which after the first week was then in the school hall –  grey mince and lumpy mash delivered in huge silver vats – ) with Mr Cameron patrolling and whipping out his taw to beat the offending boys who would be mucking about. The teachers would sit at a separate table, but I don’t remember my mother being there. Perhaps she still went home for lunch.

In the afternoon we would sit with our heads on the desk for a nap and then go home at 230. I sometimes feel like doing that now!

Daughter two on her first day at school

But I do remember our three starting school. Particularly the eldest (sorry girls!). He was young for the year, but had been doing Nursery in the mornings for the year beforehand and nearly all those children would be going in to Reception year with him. It was two form entry so the children were lined up in their separate lines – one for each teacher. Our son’s best friend was put in the other class. But he was having none of it and simply swapped himself across to be with our son. And there may have been a muttering from the teachers, but they allowed it (positive action works!). And they went in. He was fine. Looking tiny in his school uniform, but happy enough.  And he was allowed to play lego all afternoon so what’s not to love?

First day at School, little sis in jimjams

It was on the way home for the first half term that there would be tears and touchiness. It was like walking on eggshells. I think a combination of having to be on best behaviour all day, fatigue and hunger combined to make anything I said an incendiary device. We would walk home and he would eat a box of sultanas or an apple in an effort to keep himself together.

The baby starts school.

I don’t remember any of ours blubbing at the door, refusing to go in. But I remember seeing other mothers in tears as their offspring were peeled off them. It was heartbreaking. Even though you knew they were going to be fine and the staff were caring, my heart went out to them. And the weeping mothers.

But there was a spring in my step when all three could finally go to school and I would have till 330 all to myself. Oh yes, that inner geek resurfaced and I revelled in a bit of solitude. Mixed with occasional lunches and more frequent coffees.  And some more work.  But mostly revelling.

Natalie’s first day and someone’s not happy!

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